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Conservation for Home Gardeners
Conservation definitions World Conservation Strategy (1980) the management of human use of the biosphere so that it may yield the greatest sustainable benefit to present generations while maintaining its potential to meet the needs and aspirations of future generations Merriam-Webster online (www. m-w. com) a careful preservation and protection of something; especially planned management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect
Why are plants important?
The plant extinction crisis! • Scientists estimate 100, 000 plant species are threatened with extinction today. • Plants are the most endangered species on the planet. • 29% of U. S. native plant species at risk. • 50% of our nation’s native wetlands have been destroyed. • Only 5% of our ancient forests remain in tact. • Extinction of a single plant species can result in the disappearance of up to 30 other species of plants and wildlife. • Threats to plants include habitat destruction, invasive species, overcollection, climate change, urbanization and pollution.
International progress Convention on Biological Diversity Global Strategy for Plant Conservation The World Conservation Union (IUCN)
Botanic Gardens Conservation International • International community of botanic gardens (more than 200 million visitors annually to botanic gardens worldwide) • Works locally, nationally, and globally to promote plant conservation • 537 member gardens in 116 countries • Maintains world database of plants in botanic gardens • Goal: to help conserve 50% of the world's threatened plants by 2010 • “Plant for the Planet” campaign
National progress: The Endangered Species Act • Signed into law in 1973. • Protected species are listed as either “endangered” (in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range) or “threatened” (likely to become endangered within the foreseeable future). • Plants make up more than half of all listed species. • Prohibits damage to endangered species or critical habitat, with the exception of incidental damage. • Prohibited to collect, maliciously endanger, or destroy listed species on federal land; the Act also prohibits the interstate commerce of endangered plants. • Critics: listing process is “too slow” and the law “does not go far enough”; puts too much of a burden on and takes control away from landowners.
Regional progress: Conservation in your home state
Local progress: Conservation at your botanic garden
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners Know the conservation status of the plant species you choose to grow. A large number of the plants you grow in your gardens and that are available in nurseries are threatened in their native wild habitats around the world. By knowing which plants these are, you can be an informed gardening consumer and better able to make decisions that can help save these threatened plants. Useful resources: IUCN—The World Conservation Union: www. redlist. org U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service: http: //endangered. fws. gov Natureserve: www. natureserve. org
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners Know the laws that protect wild plants and how they affect you. A permit is required to bring home from abroad or obtain from overseas suppliers any plant protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species). Local and national laws including the U. S. Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act also regulate the sale of threatened plants. Useful resources: Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species: www. cites. org Endangered Species Act: www. fws. gov/endangered WWF’s Buyer Beware campaign: www. worldwildlife. org/buyerbeware
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners To help protect wild plant populations, think conservation when buying plants, bulbs, and other plant materials. Never buy a plant that has been illegally dug up from the wild. Plants most likely to be wild collected are orchids, cacti and succulents, bulbs, carnivorous plants, cycads, and native wildflowers. Look for plant labels that say "nursery propagated" or "from cultivated stock. " (Beware ambiguous wording such as "nursery grown, " which may mean that a plant has been stolen from the wild, then grown on in a nursery. ) If a plant’s origin is unclear, ask the vendor; when in doubt, do not buy. Even better, give your business to sources who actively work to conserve threatened plants.
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners When possible, purchase plants that have been propagated sexually (by seed) to help maintain the genetic health of threatened plants. Many plants in the nursery trade are clones propagated in ways that eliminate genetic variation. The genetic diversity of threatened plants is best served when they are grown from seed. Before buying them, ask how the plants have been propagated.
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners Be as diligent about documenting the origins of any threatened plants in your garden or greenhouse as you are about growing them. There are some plants that are so critically endangered in the wild that specimens in private gardens could be an important source of germplasm for future conservation efforts. A detailed record of their provenance, or origin, increases the conservation value of the threatened plants you grow. Conservation-minded suppliers of seed or plants can provide such information.
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners Make your garden a refuge for native wildflowers and wildlife. By using native species in plantings modeled after local plant communities such as forests or prairies, you can do your part to help compensate for the loss and fragmentation of habitat, and nurture birds, butterflies, and other pollinators and seed dispersers. And don't forget — to avoid threatening plants indirectly by damaging their pollinators and native habitats, don't use toxic pesticides, don't overfertilize, and choose plants to minimize water use. Useful resources: National Audubon’s “Audubon at Home”: www. audubon. org/bird/at_home “Going Native: Biodiversity in Our Own Backyards, ” BBG Handbook
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners Never grow plants that are invasive or potentially invasive. Many common garden plants can become invasive. Invasive plants spread out of control in the wild, threatening native plants and animals. Remove these plants from your garden. The best way to avoid introducing a new invasive plant is to select trees, shrubs, and wildflowers native to your area. Useful resources: “Invasive Plants: Weeds of the Global Garden, ” published by Brooklyn Botanic Garden, www. bbg. org.
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners Make the most of your green thumb — volunteer to assist conservation work at a botanic garden or other group. From propagating threatened species to removing invasive plants, the amount of work required to save the estimated 100, 000 imperiled plants worldwide is staggering. Botanic gardens and other groups rely on volunteers to help get the work done. Visit www. bgci. org to find botanic gardens near you.
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners Support local, national, and international plant conservation efforts. Become a member of botanic gardens and other groups involved in plant conservation and habitat preservation. Let your government officials know plant conservation is important to you.
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners Be an ecotourist — support sustainable use of plants when you travel. Ecotourism is travel that contributes to the protection of critical habitat and sustains local communities. Choices range from small-scale tours to large resorts. Earthwatch Institute – conservation expeditions! http: //www. earthwatch. org
A Plant Conservation Checklist for Gardeners http: //www. Plantforthe. Planet. org http: //www. bgci. org